Revolution on rails

Revolution on rails

Flexible freight wagons are ready for series production: DB Cargo and VTG’s research project is on the home stretch.

With the innovative m2 system, users can configure the loading length, bogies, wheelsets and brakes on the freight wagons to fit their intended use. Some eight months after approval of this innovative system, DB Cargo is now introducing a pre-production series, consisting of 50 of the multifunctional and modular models.

“The approval of a freight wagon as a complete and flexible system is a real milestone,” says Pierre Timmermans, Member of the Management Board for Sales at DB Cargo. “Our customers benefit in particular, and ultimately so does the climate. That’s because this allows us to move faster to get more goods onto rail. We can make better use of our trains’ capacity, too. The first wagons are being used for customers on a test basis, and we are delighted with the thoroughly positive feedback we’ve heard.” 

Multifunctional and modular structure

Innovative: The modular and multifunctional freight wagons are soon to revolutionise the market.

The system, developed in a research project by DB Cargo and VTG, relies on a multifunctional and modular design (hence the name m2) with removable and interchangeable layouts. This means the wagons can be adjusted according to various parameters, including weight, distance travelled and cost. 

“The system can be precision tuned to address the specific needs of shippers,” explains Sven Wellbrock, Chief Operating Officer Europe and Chief Safety Officer at VTG AG. “Together with digitalisation, modularisation opens up new worlds in rail freight transport and boosts the availability of the fleet for customers. This makes rail substantially more appealing.”

At the very outset of the project, which received funding from the German federal programme to promote pioneering rail freight technology, DB Cargo had already brought various customers and partners on board, who have since lent a hand in shaping the freight wagons of the future, keeping the specific requirements of their industries in mind. 

Massive advantages for multiple industries  

The flexibility of the new m2 system is poised to revolutionise freight wagon transport. Until now, wagons were tied to a specific use at the time of registration. The new m2 system has largely eliminated this need. That makes the new system vastly more flexible: if needed, timber wagons can become pulp-and-paper wagons, and coil wagons can become scrap wagons. Depending on how the wagon will be used, the switch takes no more than a day, and sometimes it’s only a matter of minutes. 

Thanks to the modular system, the loading length can also be configured from around 10 to over 22 metres. The m2 wagons aren’t only versatile; their swap body system also allows them to be used as single wagons, which should bring enormous advantages to a range of industries. 

And the innovation also offers a lot of potential for DB Cargo. The company will opt for the modern freight wagon system when it buys new wagons and replaces old ones. In the long term, this could save resources in the wagon fleet, which currently consists of around 63,000 freight wagons in Germany alone.

Get in touch with our expert.

Thomas Grein

Project Manager for Multimodal Logistics DB Cargo AG